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Chief of Police Message - May 2011

Police memorial month

Police work is not for everyone. It takes a special type of person to wear the uniform and don our badge. Risk comes with the territory. When you signed up, you so did knowing the risks involved. Yet here you are, serving the people of Los Angeles with a level of professionalism that is second to none. But knowing there are risks does not protect us from harm. This was never more apparent than in the early hours of Monday, April 4, when 22-year veteran Metropolitan Division K9 handler Steven Jenkins responded to a domestic violence complaint in the 13600 block of Dronfield Avenue in Sylmar.

Steve was shot in the jaw and shoulder. His injuries were life-threatening and we are so thankful and hopeful that he will make a full recovery. The road to recuperation will be long and hard, but with the support of his family and his LAPD family, he will not travel that road alone. Please keep him in your thoughts and prayers.

Not every tale of heroism ends with recovery. Too often our Department has seen tragedy in its ultimate form. Since becoming your chief, I have had to bury two of our finest officers who died serving our country overseas. Their loss adds to the other 202 officers who gave their all in the line of duty. We will always keep their memories alive in our Department’s history.

On May 5, 2011, we will hold our annual police memorial ceremony in front of the Police Administration Building (PAB). Remembered at the ceremony will be our latest casualty, Police Officer II Joshua Cullins. Josh was killed in action on active duty in Afghanistan. A proud United States Marine, Josh was last assigned to Central Area and was well respected amongst his peers. His untimely passing reminds us all of how fragile life can be. I am in awe at the sacrifices our officers and their families make to serve our country and our communities.  

Josh Cullins’ name will be added to our memorial wall, as well as our website LAPDOnline.org. The “Gone but Not Forgotten” feature is also available on the Department LAN. During the month of May, I join you in the tradition of wearing the black mourning band on my badge in honor of all our fallen officers.

 

“LAPD” on display

As part of efforts to remember fallen officers the Los Angeles Police Historical Society, in partnership with the Los Angeles Times, will be displaying thirteen photos of LAPD officers, not been seen in decades, and the news articles which will tell their stories. The display, located in the PAB lobby, goes as far back as 1911.  The next time you are downtown, please take a moment to come by and see this touching remembrance of our fallen heroes.

 

Officer safety

Officer safety is and will always be one of my top priorities. I am always looking for ways to improve, whether through training, tactics, and equipment or just looking out for each other.  Safety is always in the forefront of any decision I make. 

The Department recently acquired funding to purchase 1,200 tactical holsters, for Tasers, which many of you have been requesting. These new holsters will replace the current version, which is widely viewed as cumbersome and problematic. We expect to begin the distribution of the holsters by the end of this month.

In addition to the holsters, we may be able to secure enough funds to purchase another 1,500 Tasers, a big step. It is my goal to be able to provide Tasers for every officer. This would give officers another force option and reduce the risk of serious injury to both officers and the public.  

One of the greatest risks to officers in the field is driving. Aggressive driving increases the possibility of a serious traffic collision. Getting to the scene of a call fast is less important than getting to the scene safely. Please wear your seatbelts. Seatbelts can save your life.

 

Medal of Valor

Every May we recognize the heroic actions of a courageous few during the Medal of Valor ceremony. Over the years there have been many dramatic incidents of courage, sacrifice, bravery and heroism, resulting in lives saved and tragedies averted. While most Medal of Valor recipients will tell you they were just doing their job, don’t be fooled.  These men and women went above and beyond the call of duty, risking their own wellbeing in the process. 

This year we have 10 recipients. Their compelling stories are now a part of the Department’s Medal of Valor history. Here is a complete list of the 2011 Medal of Valor recipients:

Retired Sergeant I Roy Gardner (# 22222), Southeast Division

Police Officer II Owen Berger (#37319), Southeast Division

Police Officer II Thorsten Timmermans (#37459), Southeast Division

Police Officer III Custodio Ponce (#27071), Hollenbeck Division

Detective III Rafael Acosta (#26780), Hollenbeck Division

Detective II Daniel Hanabusa (#30828), Hollenbeck Division

Police Officer II Rudolph Rivera (#34735), Hollenbeck Division

Police Officer II Jose Salazar (#35827), Hollenbeck Division

Police Officer II Benjamin Aguilera (#36361), Hollenbeck Division

Police Officer II Roy Reza (#32491), Hollenbeck Division

 

Congratulations to all of this year’s recipients on a job well done.

Finally, I cannot say often enough how very proud I am of the job you do for the people of our City.  We have made tremendous strides in implementing constitutional policing, while at the same time reducing crime to historic lows. That these accomplishments were made during a period of severe fiscal austerity makes them even more remarkable. We are truly blessed to be able to work with each other and accomplish so much.

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